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10 Years Later, "The Amazing Spider-Man" Is Still One Of The Most Frustrating Comic Book Films Of All-Time

It was probably doomed from the start, and yet it almost worked. 

In the grand scheme of things, 2010 was not that long ago, but if we're talking about the world of comic book films, it might as well have been last century. You see, kids, there was a time in which there was only one actor to play Spider-Man. There was only one Spider-Man series, and there was only one Spider-Man director, that man being Sam Raimi. And despite the disappointment that was "Spider-Man 3," fans were genuinely very excited about what a "Spider-Man 4" with Tobey Maguire and company would bring. Everyone wanted to see it...except Sony, and it was announced in the early part of 2010 that Spider-Man would be going back to high school, and the series would be rebooted in 2012. While I have a soft spot for "The Amazing Spider-Man" series, it's undeniable that these films exist because Sony wanted to retain the rights to Spider-Man. That is by no means a guarantee that a movie is going to be bad. Almost all Hollywood films are products, and sometimes products can be excellent. I don't think anyone was clamoring for a "Top Gun" sequel, and yet it's one of the biggest movies of the last decade. 

Fans, especially those with a real personal attachment to the Sam Raimi films, were very skeptical about rebooting Spider-Man so early. It was announced that the film would retell the origin story, leading to even more head-scratching. But despite the skepticism, the film had many talented people attached to it. Andrew Garfield, who at the time was a brilliant up-and-coming actor, was cast as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Emma Stone, one of the world's biggest movie stars in the early 2010s, was cast as his love interest Gwen Stacy. And Marc Webb, who was coming off his critically acclaimed indie hit "500 Days Of Summer," was tapped to direct the project. When the first trailer for this movie dropped, people seemed pretty excited. The effects looked neat. It appeared to have a much darker tone than the Raimi films. Things were looking up, and then the movie came out, and it divided many people. 

The first "Amazing Spider-Man" is the number one example of "There's a great movie in here somewhere." There are so many things about it that are admirable. The effects are sensational. Andrew Garfield is a powerhouse actor, and while there are several awkward moments with his character, his performance is quite good, and his chemistry with Emma Stone is easily the best part of both of these movies. The action sequences are pretty impressive, and Dennis Leary is having a lot of fun as Captain Stacy. When I watch this movie, I enjoy it. There's a huge personal element to that. I love Spider-Man, so I'm way more inclined to watch this thing from beginning to end every few years than most people, but I don't think it's a bad film. It just suffers from two huge problems. 

Problem one is that it was a massive mistake to retail the origin story. While the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Man films are some of my all-time favorites, I can't sit here and act like there aren't imperfections. At the same time, the origin and the way it was told in the original Spider-Man film is about as flawless as it gets. They hit lightning in a bottle with that, and I think it was silly to try to recapture that magic. Because of that, the film, at points, feels tedious. It's a full 40 minutes before we see him get his powers. The first half of the movie is by no means void of bad scenes, but the process as a whole feels redundant. And also, Andrew Garfield ain't 17 years old. I'm usually really lenient with that stuff. I'm the one guy in the world who just shrugged his shoulders when everyone complained about how 30-year-old Ben Platt was playing 17-year-old Evan Hansen in "Dear Evan Hansen." I'm willing to suspend disbelief, but this one was tough. While Garfield and Stone give good performances, they're tough to believe as 17-year-old high schoolers. 

The biggest issue that plagues this movie falls squarely on the studio's shoulders. This movie is so overly edited. Scenes are cut and discussed throughout the movie as if we saw them. Characters enter the film and then leave with no explanation. We see moments and lines of dialogue in the trailer that never show up in the movie. Because of that, despite being over two hours, it feels like half of a film. It seems like something is missing in almost every scene, and it bogs the movie down entirely. One of the big complaints people justifiably had when they saw this movie was that the villain's motivation and plan were ridiculous. The Lizard's goal of turning all of New York City into lizards is laughable. But at the same time, anything can be done correctly with good writing. Several scenes that further fleshed out Curt Connor's motivation and why he was doing what he was doing were cut from the movie, as were several scenes that explained Peter Parker's past. 

It's evident to me which parts of this film were directed by Marc Webb and which parts of this movie were hacked up in post-production due to studio demands. I believe that at its core, this was meant to be a movie that was a coming-of-age tale. It just happened to be about Spider-Man. And there were quite a few moments where you see that movie trying to emerge. It just feels like every time the ball starts rolling, producer Avi Arad stepped in and let the air out of the balloon. It's a shame because while there was a magic to those Raimi films that can never be repeated, I feel like this could've been the "Batman Begins" of Spider-Man, the darker reboot they took the franchise in a different direction. Instead, we were left with a Frankenstein's monster of a movie that has redeeming elements, but as a whole, it never quite achieves its goal. 

I'm a huge fan of nostalgia, so while I criticize this movie and the ridiculous sequel that came after it, I still have a soft spot for it. This movie came out between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I remember going to see the film at midnight. I remember playing the video game, which I thought was fun. It's not nearly as good as the games that Insomniac has made recently, but it was pretty cool. The nostalgia isn't quite as strong, but my feelings toward this movie fall into a similar camp as the Star Wars prequels. I acknowledge every single flaw, yet I can't turn on it. The difference is the Star Wars prequels, throughout many points, are objectively bad. "The Amazing Spider-Man" has plenty of redeeming elements. It just doesn't completely work. If you're looking for more information, I highly recommend watching Alex Hunter's video about the making of this movie. I find it very fascinating. 

I'm pleased that Andrew Garfield finally gets the recognition he deserved for his portrayal of Spider-Man. One of my favorite things about "No Way Home" was seeing him return and prove that he was a great Spider-Man. He just wasn't in great Spider-Man movies. There's so much talk nowadays about director's cuts. Zack Snyder's version of "Justice League" getting released led to outcries for different versions of different films to finally see the light of day. The idea of a Webb cut of the first "Amazing Spider-Man" is genuinely intriguing to me. If Marc Webb was allowed to make the move he wanted to make, this could've been that classic game-changing Spider-Man film that Sony was hoping for. Until that day comes, we'll have to settle for 2012's "The Amazing Spider-Man," the bizarre middle child of the Spider-Man universe.